Michigan State is coming off the best season in school history, at least since Richard Nixon was serving as President of the United States. After knocking off Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and taking down Pac-12 champion Stanford in the Rose Bowl, the Spartans are now embracing life on top of the Big Ten. This has been a process years in the making under head coach Mark Dantonio, and well deserved. In light of recent developments in Columbus, Michigan State is now entering a brand new season as one of the more popular favorites in the Big Ten.
So how does a program that has at times stumbled when things were going well continue to break that mold and prove they are worthy of the preseason hype? For Dantonio, the responsibility falls on his seniors on the roster.
“I think it is senior leadership, the culture you develop in your group,” Dantonio said Tuesday during the weekly Big Ten coaches conference call. Michigan State returns eight seniors in the starting line-up, along with 10 juniors. Michigan State returns 46 lettermen this fall.
“We’re going to find out how we handle the ultimate success of last year,” Dantonio said. “[At] the same time our enthusiasm has been good, our mindset has been good.”
Michigan State is starting the season with the highest preseason AP ranking since opening the 1967 season ranked third in the nation. The Spartans also have the highest preseason ranking in the coaches poll since 1991, when the poll was first administered. The Spartans open the 2014 season Friday night with the first game against an FCS opponent in school history, Jacksonville State.
Michigan State travels to Oregon in week two.
On April 25, East Carolina announced that Kurt Benkert had decided to transfer out of the Pirates football program. Less than a week later, the quarterback has found himself a new football home.
On Twitter Sunday afternoon, Benkert confirmed that he will be enrolling at Virginia and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Cavaliers. Beckert also acknowledged his decision in a text message to 247Sports.com.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Beckert said in a portion of the brief text.
As Beckert is headed to UVa. as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Hoos immediately in 2016. Not only that, but he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Beckert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season. In Charlottesville, Beckert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.
In my seven-plus years at CFT, I’ve never been shy in expressing my absolute and utter respect for Mark Richt, whether it was for an honorable against-the-grain stance on transfers or honoring a high school football player who tragically drowned before he could become a walk-on at Georgia or myriad other things. Sunday, Richt solidified that respect.
As you may know, Richt and UGA parted ways this offseason, with the head coach ultimately moving on to Miami to take over his alma mater’s football program. As expected, his departure from Athens was classy.
Just as expected, one of Richt’s returns to his old stomping grounds further showed his class.
Not to be outdone, Richt’s replacement showed his class as well.
Bravo to both head coaches. Sometimes, most times, being classy is the absolute right move — even as Richt’s successor could take some lessons from his predecessor when it comes to transfers.
Forget about going shirtless at a satellite camp or a sleepover or climbing up a tree or any of the like; this is what you call a recruiting pitch.
During the course of the three-day NFL draft, a dozen former Ohio State Buckeyes were drafted. While OSU failed to break its own record for most picks in a single draft, the 12 selections in the first four rounds were the most ever.
And, not surprisingly, those players are going to get paid.
According to PennLive.com‘s David Jones, those players will sign contracts that could be worth a total of $120 million. Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch has the number pegged slightly lower at $111,462,707. Either way, that’s a lot of cash — and a lot dollar signs for Urban Meyer to flout in front of potential recruits.
Of course, not all of that money is guaranteed, although the guaranteed dollars involved aren’t too shabby either. From the Dispatch:
Just the signing bonuses alone, which range from Bosa’s projected $17,017,226 to Jones’ $383,393, have an expected total of $60,526,660. Unless a player does something to cause his contract to be voided, signing bonuses are theirs to keep.
Regardless of how you spin it, former Buckeyes did quite well financially the last couple of days. And, as Jones alludes to when it comes to James Franklin and Penn State specifically and the Big Ten in general, Meyer and the Buckeyes are in an entirely different zip code than the rest of the conference — a fact that will no doubt come up on the vast expanses of the recruiting trail.
The good news for Franklin and Penn State: They had three of those 11. The bad news for them and everyone else in the league: Urban Meyer is probably preparing a recruiting flyer right now with a 9-figure dollar amount printed in big bold numbers.
On the same day some details emerged on an Alabama assistant’s “resignation,” that assistant’s potential replacement has been identified.
Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Karl Dunbar is expected to be hired as the Tide’s new defensive line coach. Dunbar would replace Bo Davis, who “resigned” Friday amidst allegations of potential NCAA violations.
Dunbar served as Nick Saban‘s strength & conditioning coach at LSU from 2001-02, and then returned to Baton Rouge as Les Miles‘ line coach in 2005 after spending two years (2003-04) in the same position at Oklahoma State.
Most of Dunbar’s coaching career, though, especially recently, has come at the NFL level.
From 2006-11, Dunbar was the line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, and then held the same job with the New York Jets from 2012-2014. Hired by Rex Ryan to coach the Buffalo Bills’ line in 2015, Dunbar was fired in March of this year.
Dunbar is a former NFL defensive lineman who played for Arizona in 1994-95, when Ryan was one of his Cardinals assistant.